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How to make your home more eco friendly

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3D Green Energy By Chris Potter Via Flickr

It is difficult to get through the news lately without an article on some sort of environmental crisis popping up. Water shortages, climate change and poor air quality are all making an impact on the earth. You should not let what might seem like an insurmountable problem keep you from helping protect the planet and its resources. There are ways individuals can make a difference.

Your house can be a model of green living. As you build or make improvements to your home, consider the eco-conscious options. There are companies that specifically cater to environmental updates. If you’ve been to your state fair in the last few years, you’ll note there are many vendors of green living products. From large makeovers to inexpensive changes, here are some ways to make your home more eco friendly.

At the top

Starting at the top of the house, consider your roofing options. Installing solar panel shingles is not the unusual practice it once was. While the initial investment can cost more than traditional shingles, you will save money in the long run with the energy produced by the addition. Some states offer rebates for homeowners installing solar panels.

You can also look at tile, which lasts for decades and is great for ventilating and cooling the house. The uber gardener may want a living roof – these roofs take careful planning and maintenance, but who wouldn’t love getting basil from the roof?

Underneath the roof, make sure you up your energy efficiency in the attic with insulation. You can find products that are made from recycled paper or denim. Sheep’s wool is a great insulation that is easy to install.

The main floor

Using natural light whenever possible can prevent huge amounts of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Open those shutters and let the light shine. And speaking of shutters, your window treatments can contribute to your green efforts. You can install planet friendly window shutters from a company committed to environmental materials and practices. The shutters are an aesthetically pleasing means of providing insulation to keep your house warmer.

To save on your water use, you can install recirculating water pumps for instant hot water, low flow toilets, and water aerators. By repairing leaks in plumbing or fixtures, you can prevent the waste of thousands of gallons of water. Appliances should meet energy star guidelines, and you should air dry clothes and dishes where possible to boost energy efficiency. Using organic, fragrance-free products such as shampoo and dish soap helps to remove toxins from your body and the water supply. For smaller appliances and devices, invest in a solar powered charger. You’ll lower your electricity bill and carbon emissions.

The materials and processes used to manufacture furniture, rugs and linens can often be damaging to the environment. Glues, treated fabrics, foam and more can all take a toll. It may be tempting to replace your furniture with new items, but consider heading to a thrift shop or consignment shop for your next sofa or rug. You will be minimizing manufacturing, all while getting a great price and benefiting a good cause. If you really want new items, find a company that is committed to using renewable woods, organic fabrics and other green materials.

A recycling system is a great way to reduce waste on the earth. The simple act of recycling reduces the amount of plastic produced and lowers harmful gas emissions. You can do an online search to learn hundreds of ideas to reuse and upcycle items you use regularly, from plastic bags to garbage cans.

Outside the house

A garden has numerous benefits for yourself and the earth. You can ensure your food is organic and pesticide free. You have less need of the grocery store and the overall impact of shopping for your food is diminished. You will be in charge of managing water use. By canning your homegrown food, you will be providing food for your family year-round. If you don’t have the ability to plant a garden, consider joining a collective that shares garden produce.

In your yard, be sure to avoid toxic chemicals for treating your lawn, and try a reel or electric lawnmower. Your landscaping can use sustainable practices, which make wise use of water, solar energy and recycled materials. Composting can be a major part of your healthy garden and lawn.

Your commitment to making your home eco friendly doesn’t have to include huge amounts of time or great expense. It can start with small steps. Whatever you decide to do, you will be setting a good example for your children and neighbors, in addition to preserving this beautiful planet.

 

Energy

Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?

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The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?

The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.

Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.

The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.

Introducing New Technology

The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.

  • To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
  • Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
  • Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.

How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy

Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.

The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.

The Internet of Things

Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.

Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.

Blockchain Technology

It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.

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Energy

4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy

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Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.

However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?

A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.

1.     Boulder Nissan

When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:

  • Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
  • They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
  • Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.

This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.

2.     Valley Electric Association

In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.

“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”

The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.

This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.

3.     Las Vegas Casinos

A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.

“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”

There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.

4.     Boston College

Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.

Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.

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